Math Education in California can be improved quickly.

2010 Update: I worked on this for about 3 months, learned a lot- a bit about the math landscape and a lot about myself. I did a bunch of things, but failed to gain the momentum of a team and never had more than an hour here or there to work on it. Four people offered to help. Two helped a bit, mostly with information.

I started a social networking site, but the software was hard to work with. Then a new version came out and corrupted the database during the upgrade process. I didn't have time to fix it-- luckily I had copied/pasted (backed up) the html that I had generated, but it would have taken hours to recreate the wiki script from it

So it's now dormant...

Meanwhile the governors common standards came to fruition, but California didn't change our standards nor earn any of the $4 billion of federal money. Meanwhile, other countries are focusing on problem-solving and creative thinking, seeing the error of the memorize, drill and give standardized tests, while California sticks with proven-false methodologies...

PS: My older son went to a less-academic private school that focused on success for kids with mild learning differences. My younger son goes to a more-academic private school that is more enlightened in its approach to math, especially in thinking the California standards are worthless...

The old text from Nov 2009 - Jan 2010 follows:

As a mathematician and computer scientist, when I took courses to become a high school math teacher in 2002, I was amazed at the wonderful methods available to teach K-12 mathematics effective to all kids. And then I was shocked to learn that due to California's backward standards, these methods, and better texts, can not be used in California. California's standards were made by mathematicians with no understanding of how most children learn, while excellent standards created by the education community were pushed aside by political ploys. As a result, far fewer of our kids can become competent in math and enter math, science and technology fields.

Another easy improvement would be to remove above-grade material from the Star test. To receive higher scores, kids have to know more, so teachers push this at the cost of not mastering grade-level math. Teachers naturally challenge their students and all principals want their schools to rate highly. The Star test should be used only to test at-grade performance and mastery, and only should reward schools who get more students up to grade level.

Good sets of standards are available for free and can be adopted at minimum cost. The STAR test can be altered this year. Reforming the state math standards and the STAR test should be at the top of our list of ways to improve California public education.

To this end, I've begun a movement to change California's math standards and testing. Please join me at

Randy Strauss,
Dec 5, 2009